Michille: What Did You Read Thursday?

stack of booksI am jumping on Elizabeth’s reading bandwagon, but looking at it from several angles. I understand that writers need to read, but I often see my reading time as procrastination of my writing time. I also found some new authors I’d like to read after attending various sessions at RWA, some because they were charming and some because they were repeatedly recommended. Yesterday, I mentioned Sherry Thomas and Jeannie Lin. Re-reading Jennifer Crusie (several of her stories) and Loretta Chase have joined the list because aspects of their writing came up that I want to go back and review (reading like a writer). I’ve also added some nonfiction to my list.

Several authors that I haven’t read came up repeatedly in sessions – Farrah Rochon, Joanna Bourne, Tessa Dare, and Darynda Jones, among others. Many of these were mentioned for their unique voices. There are several authors I can think of with unique voices – you could pick up a couple of plain typed pages from one of their stories and know that you’re reading Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Quinn, or Jayne Anne Krentz. I’m reading one right now by Julie Ann Long and one aspect of her voice is vocal emphasis in dialogue. There are a lot of words in dialogue that are italicized for emphasis. I’m trying to decide if there are too many of them. I suppose the fact that I’ve noticed would suggest there are too many, but I’m not tempted to throw the book at the wall, either. I have a Carole Mortimer on my To Be Read shelf. I don’t usually read category, but she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at RWA, and we got one of her books in our conference packet so it’s worth a shot. The woman has written over 200 books. Wow!

The nonfiction came up in the Why Professors Love to Study Romance session. My favorite Romance Sociology ladies, Jennifer Lois and Joanna Gregson, have an article coming soon in Gender & Society – “Sneers and Leers: Romance Writers and Gendered Sexual Stigma.” Sarah Frantz and Eric Sellinger edited “New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction; Critical Essays” (McFarland, 2012). Catherine Roach has “Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture” coming out in late 2015 (Indiana University Press). RWA has a list of academic grants here.

Have we added sufficiently to your procrastination To Be Read pile? Anything more to add?

12 thoughts on “Michille: What Did You Read Thursday?

  1. Michille, I too have the Carole Mortimer book in my TBR pile, along with three random Harlequin Regency romances that I picked up mainly for research purposes at one of the book signings. I just ordered a book on spying during the American Revolution, both because I’m interested in it and because I’m hoping to pick up something useful for my own hero/spy. I also ordered The Rossie Effect, a follow-up to The Rosie Project that I read a while back and really enjoyed. I don’t think I need any help from you adding to my procrastination TBR pile – I seem to be doing just fine on my own 🙂

    • And now I’ve added Graeme Simsion to my TBR authors, dangit. I read the blurb at Amazon and it looks really good. I don’t usually go for series books that have the same character as the protagonist in more than one book because character arc is one of the main things i read for and the arcs are usually slow in same-protagonist series’. This one looks like the protagonist does change a lot in the first one. I’ll be interested to hear if you like The Rosie Effect.

  2. I heard a book mentioned a few times at the conference that I’m interested in: “They Used to Call Me Snow White, but I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor” by Gina Barreca. Since I try to write light, I thought that might have a professional interest for me. Plus be funny. I also plan to try Jeannie Lin. I tried the Carole Mortimer book that we got, and I’m in awe of her productivity. But I’m not her reader, or this wasn’t my book. I’d be curious to hear what you think!

    • I recall hearing about that book, too, in more than one session. Adding another book. I have a shelf full of nonfiction that I haven’t read, or I’ve read parts of. For Jeannie Lin, I’m going to start with The Lotus Palace (1st of 2 in a series) because that’s the one recommended on the NPR list. I still plan to read the Mortimer we got at the conference, but I imagine I’ll have the same opinion as you do because I think we have similar tastes in stories.

  3. I wouldn’t have picked up Carole Mortimer’s book, since I don’t read category, but since it came with the conference, I’ll look at it.
    Your talk about the use of emphasis in dialogue reminded me of J.D. Salinger. I never got into Catcher in the Rye, but Franny and Zooey was rife with characters who simply had to use Emphasis every other syllable.

    • I couldn’t finish Catcher in the Rye, but I tried to read it as an adult and I found the main character to be too disturbed for me. My husband was a high school English teacher and he said the kids loved it. In the Finding Your Voice session, the presenters mentioned something they attributed to Hannah Howell. If your character has a unique dialect, only have him/her use 10 unique words to show the dialect because any more than that is distracting. I think that applies to emphasis, too. Either use it less frequently or have only one character who does it, not all of them. I read a book (can’t remember the author or the name of the book) years ago that had a child in it who spoke baby talk all the time. It was very distracting. I would handle that by maybe having the child say a sentence or two and spell it phonetically and then write the rest of the child’s dialogue correctly with the adult character thinking something like, “at least that’s what I think the kid said,” or “the kid drops her r’s just like my niece did at that age.” And that would only need to be there once or twice to signal that’s the way the kid talks. I write with the assumption that my readers have a brain (and use it).

  4. I am grumpy. I can’t find any of my copies of Bet Me, which means after a hard week of cleaning, I’ve still got more cleaning to do. Bleh. I just want to sit down with a good book!

    I did, however, find Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle. I just re-watched the Ghibli animation with my daughter and her friends, and it was warming — but the book is fabulous. These are two entirely separate works of art, and I admire both very much.

    The Ghibli version is very steam-punk, which is kind of where my WIP is sort of going (note excess of modifiers, I’m not quite sure yet). Jones’ book is steampunk, I think, but it’s not terribly in your face. The castle is certainly fire-powered.

    • I just looked at the description of Howls’ Moving Castle. It looks like a hero’s journey story which I usually really like. It looks like a middle grades book. I’ll have to ask my daughter if she has read it.

      • I think Howl might be a middle-grade book. But the themes . . . wowsers. I think it might be one of those rare books with a shifting perspective — you read it one way when you are 12, you read it a different way at 22, and you read it another way every decade of your life. I’m almost 47, and it was amazing when I finished it yesterday. It reminds me of my youth, but also of the importance of keeping active even as an old lady like Sophie became, or the Witch of the Waste was.

        I think it’s both a hero’s journey and a heroine’s journey. And I found it improved upon reading, as well as deepened when read in conjunction with the Ghibli film (which is really an entirely different piece of art with a few of the same elements).

  5. The books on my TBR pile are mostly ones that haven’t been released yet. I’m looking forward to Tessa Dare’s When a Scot Ties the Knot (25 Aug), Kristan Higgins move into women’s fiction, If Only You Knew (also 25 Aug), Sonali Dev’s Bollywood Bride (I love A Bollywood Affair) at the end of Sept. Oh, and one already released, Lauren Willig’s The Lure of the Moonflower (the last in the Secret History of the Pink Carnation series), but I’m saving that for some undefined (and unlikely) perfect moment, when I have a whole day to lie on the sofa and enjoy it.

    • Sonali Dev’s A Bollywood Affair was on the NPR list. It’s good to know you, as an 8LW comrade, liked it. I read the back cover blurb and it looked very interesting – the heroine trying to ‘marry’ (haha) the traditions of the old world in her native country with the modernity she lives with in the US while getting her education. The fact that the hero is the brother coming to try to get the husband/fiance (it was unclear whether they were married in the blurb) out of the contract was delicious. TBR pile grows and grows.

    • That’s so exciting, Rachel! The news about Sonali Dev’s new book, I mean. I’m also interested in Kristan Higgins — NPR’s Linda Holmes recommended one of Higgins books, which I enjoyed. The setting isn’t as exotic as I’d like, but if someone gave me her book for Christmas, I would be happy to receive it (-:. (As opposed to pre-ordering it, which I don’t know if I can do with ebooks like how I want to purchase Bollywood Bride.) Really nice plotting and characterization in the Higgins.

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